Ante Thompson (known to Arkansas Times readers as Ante Yana, Round 3 winner of the 2020 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase) couldn’t sleep for days after Memorial Day.
“I saw the video [of George Floyd] and I was just grieved. Upset and hurt. I couldn’t sleep. Nobody called and told me to get out there. It’s just understood that we’re going to be on the ground fighting because the whole world is like ‘How could you not?’” Thompson connected with The Movement and organizers like Drekkia Writes, who invited him to come rap at a protest.
On May 30, Thompson and Cai Lane of Fellowship North organized a “Prayer and Protest” at the Capitol with information and resources. Tonight, Thompson plans to be at the State Capitol at 6 p.m. for the The Movement’s Big Step Memorial Walk.
Thompson credits a church in southwest Little Rock and its ministry for changing his life as a teenager, giving him a community and an outlet to pursue music. At the same time, Thompson noticed, issues like systemic racism were not acknowledged from the pulpit. “I actually had a pastor tell me once that the church played no role in the Civil Rights movement. He just texted me a long apology a few days ago,” Thompson says “I haven’t responded yet.”
Thompson grew up in various parts of the city, his biography states, spending “most of his time on 65th; while school breaks, summers, and other special days were usually spent in the South Side where his aunt and grandparents live. With his father in prison and his mother always working trying to keep him and his two sisters taken care of, the streets became family.”
Thompson’s involvement with community issues didn’t start with activism. Part of his brand is a nonprofit called You Are Not Abandoned. It’s in its infancy yet, but its mission, Thompson said, “is to effect change in our communities by establishing a hands on mentorship program for incarcerated fathers that will help them connect or reconnect with their children. Establish after school programs for latchkey children as an avenue to assist working mothers that are not able to afford childcare. We would also like to provide retreats for fathers and sons (mothers and daughters) that will help them develop a stronger bond, and promote family unity. It is also our goal to establish classes and seminars that will teach budgeting, fiscal responsibility, credit management and empowerment through entrepreneurship to break the cycle of poverty in low income areas. My mission is to use my platform and my talents to glorify God by showing His love through discipleship to bring unity across racial lines to the hopeless, helpless, and downtrodden and to show them in a tangible way that [YANA] You Are Not Abandoned.”
Thompson hopes You Are Not Abandoned’s mission will expand to include issues outside the black community. “Immigration is an issue we may need to deal with as well,” he said.”When it’s peoples’ pain you’re talking about, it becomes a national issue, so it’s something we need to fight on all levels.”